Posted in Hot Video on November 18, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

For our Friday musical highlight, I give you the unforgettable iconic MARILYN MONROE singing DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND from the film GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES.

Enjoy your weekend.


Posted in Film on November 18, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

Once again, the Christmas season is upon us. Mmmmmm. Good times…

Our miraculously marvelous friends at EW have put together a rocking compilation of 35 highly anticipated cinematic releases.

They include:





















To get a gander at the gallery, please go here


Posted in Film, Phenomenons on November 18, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by KISA LALA at THE HUFFINGTON POST

“Being ready at 9 am in any country,” sighed CHARLOTTE RAMPLING, smartly turned out in a black suit after a late night of revelry in the West Village. THE LOOK had just premiered the night before in New York and GABRIEL BYRNE had popped out to greet her after the show.

GABRIEL recalled how he’d sweated over how to impress her while on a first stroll through Central Park together and seeing a night guardsman walk past had quipped, “Ah, night porter!” CHARLOTTE had ignored his remark and had kept walking.

Later GABRIEL had asked, “But wasn’t that funny?”

“You don’t know how many fucking times people have said that to me,” CHARLOTTE had replied.

CHARLOTTE RAMPLING’S films do not flash across neon lit marquees in middle America, but her carefully culled oeuvre (“Sort of my artistic choice…a way of living, of evolving for me,” she tells me) has garnered a cult of swooning devotees who admire her courage in picking unconventional roles spanning four decades of cinema.

More prolific than ever, she has recently starred in LEMMING, SWIMMING POOL and HEADING SOUTH, playing conflicted reclusive roles or evil camp cameos, like in the sci fi flick BABYLON A.D. She has also appeared in a MARC JACOBS fashion shoot, as well as an extended love fest with photographer JUERGEN TELLER, who played nude antics over a piano and gleefully peed into a flowerpot while CHARLOTTE, curled in bed, indulgently looked on.

All the excavation and over blown analysis into her enigma seems redundant when she is, more evidently, an artist committed to questing in life. While THE LOOK is a biopic, featuring conversations with friends, it is tamer and less confrontational than past roles that explore darker aspects of her nature revealing, instead, a more contented side.

We share a couch near a lovely blazing fireplace at a lounge in Soho. I tell her that I wished she’d included a conversation with a younger woman, beautiful and successful as she had been when young, to create a tenser dynamic. Ms. Rampling fixes me with her hooded leopard gaze.

“Hmm. I didn’t think of it…but it could have been good.” It was a bit early to talk about love, aging and mortality at breakfast, but I struggled to get past the platitudes.

KISA LALA: What about a crossover artist like TILDA SWINTON?

CHARLOTTE RAMPLING: I don’t know her, though I’ve met her once. She’s certainly someone I would identify with; we are on the same sort of path. I feel in some ways she’s stronger than me, able to take on certain things I can’t take on.

KL: When you’re born beautiful you aren’t expected to do much more in life…

CR: It’s all ready enormous. What beauty brings is huge. It brings great privilege, great power and potential to do many things. If you are beautiful, doors open for you; people smile at you; you are accepted in places where others aren’t. So the relationship that people have with beauty, in a sense, is almost deforming.

KL: Your older sister’s suicide gave you a sense of mortality at a very young age…

CR: Yes, because you know there’s a brutal end. However it will be. Her death was brutal and I had that in the face very young.

It sent me on a very deep search. Not necessarily to be rebellious or provocative. But it so happened, within that journey…it led me to get to the depth of something – a feeling, a life, or philosophy; to get my teeth into something, which made some sense and which wasn’t just [sighs] beautiful and suddenly finished – and what are we here for…and what on earth is going on in the world and how are we supposed to live. I started to quest and began my journey into life then.

KL: And you surrounded yourself with challenging men. DIRK BOGARDE coined that expression about THE LOOK you had. Was the film, in a certain sense, an homage to him?

CR: Yes, you’re completely right. The meeting of me and DIRK…it is an homage, this film almost could be made because of him. And because of the circumstances in my life then, I started something with him. And he was older. He became my master, my trusted friend, he and TONY [DIRK BOGARDE’S partner]. They were that side of my family that were gone.

KL: Being in a place of vulnerability you had protection from the right people perhaps?

CR: Perhaps…and is it because one has the animal instinct to seek out the people that suits one? You see people that go on life’s journeys and get muddled along the way. If you look at their lives they’ve always gone with the wrong people…Can you say it’s the wrong people? I don’t know…

I was working with these very iconic people, [like Visconti] who were able to inspire me into a way. You can choose many ways can’t you? Again, if you are beautiful and talented and I had made films and people were looking at me – and so I could choose.

KL: DIRK BOGARDE also explored a spectrum of sadomasochistic and gay roles: THE NIGHT PORTER, THE SERVANT, THE VICTIM…

CR: He’s gone into dangerous areas that at that time had not been exploited — not been seen with homosexuality — with things that were beginning to come into the open.

KL: You are fortunate you share this rich cinematic history with your public and with younger generations; it’s now part of collective memory. What about the personal impact of memory – is it a gift or a burden?

CR: I think you can choose. You don’t need the painful memories, because either you’ve resolved them. Denying always makes them want to come back. Denial is a mechanism that doesn’t work. But allowing them to come back in little by little, those memories, you can begin to be quite comfortable with them and it’s even nice to have that as part of the map of your life.

KL: That’s wise…

CR: But as human beings, we do need to learn to become wise… because we all can and it’s not something only given to wise old men with beards sitting on top of mountains.

KL: Letting go of the fear of exposure can be liberating – and you were finally public about your father trying to suppress what your mother knew about your sister’s death and having to go along with that for so long.

CR: By trying to control everything we become very neurotic, more and more desperate. It’s a huge tragic thing. The reason I talked about that when my mother died – because I wouldn’t say anything till she died and then I realized in some ways, bizarrely, I did want to talk about it…But then you know, it’s always going to be talked about – but that’s what I needed to do and I couldn’t not.

Now what happens with a lot of information is that it keeps coming back and back and back…[beating the couch emphatically] and soon as it’s out there, it sort of loops back through all the different channels and all the networks.

But what we need to do is go back to each time we do something and remember and respect why we did it.

KL: As long as it was a conscious decision and you weren’t drunk…

CR: Yes! And you weren’t forced into it.

KL: In the age of the internet, you’re not just separated from your public by film critics, people can access your films on line, give immediate feedback. Has that affected your relationship with the public?

CR: I find that a bit confusing and I suppose I am not that generation. Even for other things I don’t look at it. I get dizzy. Not even about myself, but generally. [laughs] It’s dizzying all this information.

KL: Do you think you’re more of a rebel in films than in real life?

CR: No, I am the same person.

KL: But perhaps you are straighter in terms of love; a serial monogamist? Are you a believer in true love?

CR: Yeah, I believe —well I say now, because each love evolves very much over the years. I’ve always been monogamous — [within it] I’ve been in love with people, but very platonically. For me, monogamous love is about learning how to be able to trust someone completely; so you need to be able to think you can trust them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have extraordinary feelings for other people and not feel guilty about them, but not necessarily go and wreck marriages and consummate…and you don’t have to do all that.

KL: It can be platonic, perhaps like with the chimpanzee in MAX? I like the idea of living in solitude, but together. With desire though, it doesn’t necessarily change with age does it?

CR: That’s right. Exactly. But I am able to somehow work through that differently because sexual desire, it’s not a priority…well it’s just less complicated, but I can quite understand why for other people it is.

KL: I am curious about your paintings. I often write about art and it says more about a person’s emotions than asking them to be literal about who they are in conversation.

CR: Those are my funny strange creatures I live with. One of my favourite artists is Giacometti. And I didn’t even realize that I was doing it, but those sort of Giacometti creatures come out of me…it’s the spirit of him, it could be his family. They are not sculptures but I work on materials with wood. I bring these people out of them that are rather like very strange lonely creatures that come out of the darkness. A person will come out…I’ve been asked to expose them and I might, but I need to be more diligent and work on them a bit more.

KL: I am wondering about the film’s reception in the UK.

CR: I know, in your own country, you always sort of wonder – so it’s going to be very interesting.

KL: Hmm… a tough audience there. But perhaps next, a knighthood is in the cards?

CR: Knighthood! [chuckles] I am not qualified to be a Dame. To be a Dame you have to represent England in a way that I don’t. No, I got the OBE because I represent England outside of England more…but thinking of me as an actor, I haven’t done all the classical theatre, all the great roles. Think of HELEN MIRREN and me. HELEN, who I adore, is a friend – should be a Dame.

I am the rebel, the revolutionary on the side.

KL: The edgy icon? Well, daring DAME CHARLOTTE, you definitely deserve it…

CR: Well, thank you. That’s very sweet. [peals of laughter]


Posted in Film on November 18, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by SUSAN MICHALS at THE HUFFINGTON POST

Kitsch. Kink. Colour.

PEDRO ALMODOVAR has to be one of the great masters of this filmic trifecta – and has become one of the most beloved directors of this (and the last) century.

BENEDIKT TASCHEN is known for giving the public not just books of sheer beauty, but delving into the realms of shock and awe. HELMUT NEWTON’S SUMO, LE PETITE MORT – they are titles that straddle (excuse the pun) both beauty and shock with rapturous aplomb. So when it was announced that BENEDIKT TASCHEM was publishing a book around the works of Spanish director PEDRO ALMODOVAR, it sounded like a match made in heaven.

And so did a good portion of the population of Los Angeles, who happened to show up at a book signing last week, where the one and only auteur was on hand, doing a Q&A with long time collaborator and close friend ANTONIO BANDERAS.

The self taught Spaniard is responsible for 33 films, including WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, VOLVER, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER and TALK TO HER (for which he won an ACADEMY AWARD for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY).

Now he has a new epic to present us with – this book – which has got to weigh 20 pounds – aptly entitled THE PEDRO ALMODOVAR ARCHIVES. Every movie, every chapter of his career is in here. The book is a combination of interviews, never before seen photos, articles that have been written about both the director and his films and even interviews that he calls self interviews that he did with himself.

IMDB describes him as the most acclaimed director since LUIS BUNUEL, to which PEDRO (in a brief interview just prior to his meeting the throngs of fans waiting just outside for him) said, “Oh my God, this is too much.” The director is humbled by tonight’s event — in a way, he reminds one of a Spanish Santa Claus in his demeanour with his rosy complexion and full cheeks — and beyond grateful. He and LUIS BUNUEL worked very hard on similar subjects yet in very different circumstances.

“Buñuel and I, we have the same genetic. We belong to the same culture even though his period was very different than mine in Spain…He was always under a dictatorship more or less with Franco. I’m very impassioned with the way that Buñuel introduces the irrational in his films. Without any real explanation – without changing the light or changing the tone, he kept it as part of reality itself – that’s always been a lesson for me. I also very much identify with his sense of humour – it can be very dark, but it’s also very Spanish and frequently very ironic.”

What does he most love about Buñuel?

“Something that I admire very much [about Buñuel] is the way in which he was very courageous – tackling topics that are difficult…and for me, that is something that comes naturally – yet still I am completely enamoured that in the face of these challenges, he mastered them so magnificently. You can say that we belong to the same family, but someone I don’t want to be compared to, because I will always end up losing,” he said with a bit of a giggle.

Does he have a favourite Buñuel film?

“The Exterminating Angel. The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz. Viridiana…El. I guess that’s more than one.”

Colour and more importantly art is an important factor in all of PEDRO’S films. So is there a particular artist he identifies with?

“In my latest film, Louise Bourgeois the artist was an influence, but then songs or movies by others give me ideas to work with. From the moment I hear a song or see a film, even though they belong to other people, from the moment that I digest them, they almost become part of my own biology.”

The time has now come for PEDRO to start signing books. So what does he think of the sheer girth of this amazing volume?

“For good or for bad, that is my work.”


Posted in Dance on November 18, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by KAREN KAIN at THE HUFFINGTON POST

Dancers, like all performing artists, like nothing better than to be challenged. And there’s no challenge greater or more exciting for them than to have a new ballet – especially a full length story work – set on them by an extraordinary choreographer.

It’s not just that it gets the creative adrenaline flowing, but it reaffirms for them the reason they became ballet artists in the first place — to bring to life emotions, ideas and characters and convey moods and themes through the medium of dance that will move an audience.

That challenge has been taking place over the past several weeks at the WALTER CARSEM CENTRE here in Toronto by the dancers of THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA. In 2007, I asked ALEXEI RATMANSKY, Artist In Residence at AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE, if he would be interested in creating a new version of ROMEO & JULIET for our company.

I had long been a huge admirer of ALEXEI’S work and thought his sensibility and vision would be a perfect fit with our dancers and aesthetic goals. We had been dancing a version of ROMEO & JULIET since 1964 and while it had always been a mainstay of our repertoire and one of our most popular ballets, it was a work that cried out for rejuvenation, for a fresh interpretation. When ALEXEI said he’d love to work with us, I was thrilled, as were our dancers when it was announced.

When ALEXEI arrived to work with the dancers, he proved an ideal creative leader. No two choreographers are exactly alike in their temperaments or working methods and that uniqueness is also part of what makes the creation of a new work so exciting. ALEXEI turned out to have a natural rapport with our dancers and an extraordinary ability to make clear to the dancers not just the steps and movement, but his conception of the inner workings of the drama, what he wanted the ballet to be about.

It was gratifying to see how enthusiastically the dancers responded to ALEXEI’S vision, not just in choreographic terms (and there is a lot more dancing in this version than the old one) but in growing into and inhabiting the wealth of characters the ballet possesses, locating and bringing out their inner lives and emotions.

Needless to say, a new production involves more than the dancing. New sets and costumes had to be designed and created, which sent even more ripples of energy out through the company. Even a fresh marketing and public relations campaign had to be devised. Everyone became caught up in the enthusiasm of the project and you could feel the power of the project practically surge through our building. When the ballet opens at the FOUR SEASONS CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS this week, it’s going to be an amazing moment. There’s nothing like the force and challenge of a new ballet to galvanize everyone involved in bringing it to life.

ROMEO & JULIET opened at THE FOUR SEASONS CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS in Toronto on NOVEMBER 16, 2011 and runs until NOVEMBER 27, 2011.

For more information, please visit www.nationalballet.ca


Posted in Hot Video on November 12, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

Our Friday musical highlight is MATERIAL GIRL by MADONNA.

And now it’s time for me to exit. Stage left…


Posted in Glamour, Style on November 12, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

DONATELLA VERSACE knows how to throw a party.

The designer debuted her much anticipated line for H&M at a star studded event in Manhattan on Tuesday night that included a full length fashion show, a private concert by PRINCE and some serious late night shopping.

“The collection is fun,” DONATELLA told PEOPLE as she headed into the bash.

“It starts with the iconic moment: Gianni’s black leather and gold studs. Then there are the Miami prints that people know the best. I wanted to show them the real thing and then it goes through the evolution of Versace from the prints to my collections up to today.”

“I’m very happy tonight,” she added.

“I didn’t expect such a turnout. I knew it would be exciting, but not like this.”

“I’m very proud of my mother,” ALLEGRA VERSACE, wearing vintage VERSACE, chimed in.

“I’ve been wearing the H&M line. I love the fact that it’s going to make all these clothes accessible to kids my age.”

The celebrities who showed up in great numbers were also enthusiastic. UMA THURMAN recalled a particular VERSACE moment — she wore one of DONATELLA’S gowns to the GOLDEN GLOBES a few years ago — and NICKI MINAJ even paid tribute, too.

“This is what Donatella wanted,” she said, pointing to her wild green wig.

“And what Donatella wants, she gets.”

Following the fashion show, positive reviews were flying.

“I loved it,” EMMA ROBERTS told PEOPLE.

“The clothes, the hair and makeup were amazing. I feel like it was really done right. I’m unsure of a lot of collaborations, but this made so much sense. It was so fun and young and I would wear everything.”

EMMA and the rest of the crowd then moved into another room, decorated to look like a disco, and watched NICKI MINAJ and PRINCE take the stage. The iconic artist even came back for an encore, performing PURPLE RAIN and dedicating the tune to DONATELLA.

When the concert ended after 1 am, a curtain opened, revealing a huge display of the VERSACE H&M line on racks, mannequins and tables, with every outfit and accessory in the show available in great numbers and all sizes. And until the wee hours, fashionistas — with credit cards drawn — went wild.

“I’m a little bit sad that the collaboration is over tonight,” DONATELLA mused.

“I worked with a fantastic team of people. And I learned a lot.”

Most importantly, though, she was happy to share her brother’s legacy with a younger audience.

“I’d never touched the prints since my brother died,” she admitted.

“I took them from the archives and added the fun and excitement and glamour.”

Exactly what VERSACE is all about.


Posted in Film on November 9, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by ROBIN SAYERS at LA TIMES MAGAZINE

Hearing that I’ve met with ELLEN BARKIN inquiring minds want to know: “Is she as gorgeous as she is on screen?” Definitely.

“What’s that voice like in person?” Imagine a recently awoken Rip Van Winkle but much sexier.

“Does she curse like a sailor?” Sort of. She drops only variations on the F bomb but freely and with aplomb — as anyone who frequents her new but headline grabbing Twitter feed will attest.

“Was she wearing stunning jewelry?” Actually, less than most women.

And lastly, “Is she really dating a guy in his twenties?” ELLEN doesn’t comment on her romantic life, but the short answer is this: Probably. The long answer, were it in a movie, would be too strange for fiction.

ELLEN BARKIN’S career was launched in BARRY LEVINSON’S directorial debut, the 1982 dramedy DINER. This month, she stars in the dramedy ANOTHER HAPPY DAY, written and directed by BARRY LEVINSON’S son SAM. Reportedly, ELLEN BARKIN and SAM LEVINSON have been dating for three years and share her West Village townhouse. He has all but confirmed this in the press and the handsome auteur was with her when she picked up this year’s BEST FEATURED ACTRESS TONY for THE NORMAL HEART. (Surprisingly, the first turn on Broadway for the New Yorker.)

Back in 2006, when she unloaded $20.3 million worth of baubles from her ex husband billionaire financier RON PERELMAN she told journalists, in a twist on Hollywood parlance, that what she really wanted to do was produce. On ANOTHER HAPPY DAY, which scored SAM LEVINSON the WALDO SALT SCREENWRITING AWARD at SUNDANCE, she does just that. Considering the epic saga that was her divorce and the fact that this searing performance is arguably her finest work on film, it seems unlikely that ELLEN could have scripted this latest act any better…

ROBIN SAYERS: Let’s start at the beginning of your career. Is it true you studied acting for seven years before you landed a big audition?

ELLEN BARKIN: Ten years. Ten years before any audition, not [just] big. I wasn’t looking for auditions. It wasn’t as if I was trying to get auditions and couldn’t. No, I studied acting from when I was a first year student in high school to maybe 26, then I went on my very first audition by choice.

RS: Where did you go to college?

EB: I went to Hunter because there was a brilliant director named LLOYD RICHARDS – he directed all those plays on Broadway, but this was before most of them. It was hard to be a theatre major, because there weren’t that many courses, so I had to be, like, theatre/slash/something. And when I finished every theatre or English or history course, I left, like, 16 credits shy of graduating. [Laughs.]

RS: Do you have a rigid process when you build a character?

EB: I’m Method trained. How is this character like me? What does she think of her mother? What does her mother think of her? It’s like construction…and then, yes, you hope you’re talented and that the universe aligns and captures the kind of laborer’s work you’ve done and whatever else sprinkles down on you and it’s all caught on film or on stage. There’s a craft involved, like there is in building a table. And there are rules you have to follow and laws of gravity, of motion. Actors need equipment, but unlike a carpenter, your tools are not outside of you.

RS: You were both a producer and actress on ANOTHER HAPPY DAY. What initially drew you to the movie?

EB: The minute I read the first scene, I’d all ready committed in my head. And it just got better from there. The character is very, very different from me at her core. I never played — what’s that cliché? — a people pleaser. I never played a character who was always aware of being judged and afraid of being judged and always questioning her actions. She’s such a complicated character, because she’s so fragile and aggressive at the same time. I feel proud saying it’s an extraordinary film. As an actor, it’s a piece of work that — I know everybody says this with every last movie they make — I am so proud of just having tackled.

I didn’t say, “Uh, nobody’s really going to relate to this,” or “Ok, wait. We’re moving into some unsympathetic territory here.” Look, I’m 57 years old. I don’t have to be coy any more.

RS: And the director?

EB: He’s a brilliantly nonjudgmental filmmaker, which I find fabulous and refreshing. I love a filmmaker with an axe to grind as well, but SAM is just kind of like, You are the camera” — not I am the camera,” as the director. I don’t ever want to be a director. I just can’t have a first idea. I never have, [even] as a child. I just don’t see things visually.

RS: But you seem to have an innate understanding for what directors are after.

EB: I have enormous respect for them. I have to say, I haven’t worked with a lot of directors who have mistreated me. I’ve been extremely lucky, even in terms of the final movie and how it compares to what I brought to the table. I went to see THE IDES OF MARCH. I am in awe of GEORGE CLOONEY — as an actor, writer and director. And I overheard a very humorous thing, but quite telling.

There’s a dramatic moment where something big is about to happen. A window in an SUV comes down and GEORGE — you can barely see his eyes — says, “You got a couple minutes?” to PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. PHIL gets in the car and the doors close. And I said, “I know my friend George. He’s shooting this scene, like, fill in the blank.” So the camera just stays on the car for what was going on to play out in real time. PHILIP gets out, the car drives away and you’re just looking at him. Then I overheard someone say, “Why wouldn’t he shoot the scene in the car?” And I thought, “So you could shoot it in your head! Like, don’t you want to fill in that blank?”

RS: You’re certainly not shy about speaking your mind and you’ve even put your money behind what you believe politically.

EB: Well, we’re experiencing divisiveness in terms of our politics. Like, the Religious Right has identified themselves because of the propagandizing and illiteracy of…I don’t know…News Corporation, maybe? They have identified themselves with this extremist, right wing insurgency of a party — this Tea Party. They call it a grassroots movement. Grassroots? You’re attached to the wrong ship. And that just shows you the enormous — and don’t misquote me here! — the enormous success that has killed us in terms of FOX NEWS. The blatant lying that passes itself off as journalism. I don’t even need to get there to go mental.

Can you imagine a legitimate newsperson — WALTER CRONKITE, DAN RATHER, TOM BROKAW — just lying on the news? Let alone the entertainment factor — you know, news as entertainment. And because of the enormity of the money behind that machine, they have convinced this ever-growing group of really struggling, working class people, that these fuckers can somehow, in some way, represent them. They do not. I mean, let’s not even start, because that’ll take up a whole month if I go down that road.

RS: OK, we’ll swap topics. Beauty magazines have written about how women have to decide which is more important — their ass or their face. Because when your ass is smaller, your wrinkles show more and vice versa.

EB: Yeah…and you know it’s your face — a lot more people see your face, unless you’re a stripper. And by the way, whoever sees my ass all ready likes me enough that they don’t care if it’s a little flat and skinny. Skinniness is not your friend when you’re over 40. I’d like to gain a good 10 pounds, but I did always have a fat round face that plagued me when I was young. When I started to make movies, I couldn’t look at myself. My mother would say, “I had that same moon face and you’re going to like it when…” I’d say, “Yeah, but I don’t have your cheekbones,” and she’d say, “You do — you just can’t see them yet.”

It is clear I was never the Pretty Girl. I had my two front teeth knocked out when I was 10 and didn’t fix them until I was 19. I have a crooked smile and a nose that looks like it’s been broken 12 times but never has been. My nose was always red, so people called me Rudolph. My whole face is off centre. My nickname was Skinabo – skin and bones. And I have, you know, squinty, slitty eyes.

RS: Do you appreciate now how cool your eyes are?

EB: You know, when the conversation went from like, slitty eyes to bedroom eyes, I thought, “What are bedroom eyes? Do I really have them?” But I always talk about this, because if you are the beautiful girl, every door in the world is open to you immediately. When you’re that pretty, you don’t develop fuckin’ anything else. When I’d meet those girls, even decades ago, I would always say, “Listen, this is only gonna take you so far, so read a fuckin’ book. Make a fuckin’ friend. Have a conversation. And stay in school.”

RS: Did you like living in L.A.?

EB: I loved it. It was the smell. I’d just think, “This is so different than anything I’ve smelled before.” I moved to L.A. when I was 40 and lived there for five years, because my son was going into first grade and I was spending so much time — like, literally half the year — doing movies in L.A. I just thought, like the cliché, if I lived here, I’d be home. I lived above Coldwater, in a kind of East Coast style shingled country house. We had beautiful trees, a gorgeous front lawn, a tree house for my kids, pool in the backyard, a beautiful picket fence.

There had been so many brutal winters in a row with the kids in New York — on with the snowsuit, off with the snowsuit, feed them, change them — I just said, “I’m done! I gotta get the fuck outta here. I can’t roll the stroller over the icy snow and then have to go back home because someone needs to have their diaper changed. There’s gotta be a better way.” In L.A., you just open your door and out they go. [But] I did not know how to drive a car, being a true New Yorker.

RS: Yeah, that could be a problem in Los Angeles.

EB: The only thing I could do was movie drive, which I did very unsuccessfully, having taken out several cameras, camera operators and mailboxes. I took driving lessons and I got a license. Oh my God — the world’s worst! When I passed my test, I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a major ceremony at the DMV. I was like, “Do you people get it?! I couldn’t drive! I’m 40 — four zero! And I just passed my driving test!”

RS: Did you buy yourself a nice car — a convertible, maybe?

EB: No, an Audi — I had children. But I was always a terrible driver. I was never on a freeway. I mean, never. I had a friend who moved up to Mulholland. We were best friends, our kids were best friends and before she bought her house, I was like, “Do not buy that house! I can’t drive up Mulholland. I’m never going to be able to come home at night.” And I could never do carpool. I’d just say to the other mothers, “I’m not your girl. I’ll make the sandwiches, I’ll cook for the lunch, I’ll go on the class trips…but you do not want me driving your children. In fact, I’d like you to drive my children.”

RS: When you go out to L.A. now, do you drive or are you driven?

EB: I rent a car, but I’m still not good at it.

RS: So if readers see you on the road, they should know to leave a wide berth.

EB: [Smiles.]


Posted in Film on November 9, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by DECCA AITKENHEAD at THE GUARDIAN

In the weeks leading up to this interview, I began to think there must be some law that makes it illegal not to love JOHNNY DEPP.

Everyone melts into a puddle at the mention of his name. Men go even loopier than women – and the higher men rank on the coolometer of fame, the more in love with him they seem to be.

KEITH RICHARDS, BRAD PITT, the GALLAGHER brothers – the dudes all adore JOHNNY – while this month’s GQ anoints him the world’s coolest actor.

The director of WITHNAIL & I was only talked out of retirement to make Mr. Depp’s latest movie “because it was for Johnny” and recently RICKY GERVAIS was swooning in this paper: “His emails are like poetry. He’s made of bohemia.”

What can JOHNNY do to inspire all of this? I wasn’t sure that the chance to try to find out would ever actually happen. The mythology surrounding him casts him as a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel of Hollywood, so notoriously elusive that one director who flew to London and spent days searching for him observed that the secret to signing the ultrastylish actor “is finding him.”

JOHNNY loathes the media, once threatened the paparazzi with a plank and at one memorable CANNES FILM FESTIVAL cancelled all his interviews and refused to get out of bed. But after a long and involved game of on off, on off, on again ping pong, last Friday the door to a discreet London hotel suite swings open and there he is, hanging out of the window smoking.

He looks like he should be in BON JOVI or behind a stall selling Zippos in Camden market. The shirt is extravagantly ripped, the jewellery is heavily goth, the glasses are tinted and the tattoos wrap around him like climbing ivy. His voice loiters somewhere between a drawl and a growl – a deep Kentucky slurry of mumbles – but punctuated by surprise bursts of Queen’s English, with the odd anglicism (“take a gander at this”) thrown in, making him sound like TOM WAITS auditioning for MY FAIR LADY.

His face remains, if no longer quite ethereal, then still breathtakingly beautiful – creamy smooth, freakishly symmetrical, with a thick chop of chocolate hair untroubled by any trace of grey. The actor has spent most of his career trying to abdicate from the position of Hollywood sex symbol, but there appears to be nothing he can do about the tenacity of his beauty. And yet, the very first thing out of his mouth – once he’s stubbed the cig out – gives a pretty good idea of how he would prefer to be seen and how he sees himself.

“In Los Angeles, the hoity toities, the beautiful people, will sit on the Sunset Strip and have their meal at these kind of fancy restaurants where no one can smoke – but you can inhale car fumes all you like.”

He shakes his head. “I mean…that to me says it all.”

Smoking is a useful metaphor for his self image – renegade, European, rough around the edges. He did manage to give it up for two and a half years and despite having to smoke in almost every scene of his new film THE RUM DIARY – “just fake things, I think they’re made of cured leather or something, they’re really hideous, you light it and it smells like a tyre burning” – it was only on the journey home that nicotine reclaimed him.

“One bang on [the director] Bruce Robinson’s horrible little Café Crème cigar. One bang – yeah, one hit and it was over.”

BRUCE ROBINSON, for his part, fell off the wagon while making THE RUM DIARY and began drinking again.

“Yeah,” the actor grins, “it was the gift we gave each other.”

“I just said: ‘Come on, give me a bang.’ Bruce and I were in the plane and I just said: ‘Oh come on.’ You know, we’d had a bit to drink and…”

He mimes taking a drag. On the plane? “On the plane. Mmmm.” I look puzzled. He looks momentarily bashful.

“Well, it was a private plane. On a private plane you can smoke. It makes it an incredibly expensive habit, of course,” he shrugs, “cos you can only smoke on a private plane.”

Actually, he says, smoking’s not the only reason he only ever flies private. “The commercial flight thing, it just gets a little weird when you’re standing in line and suddenly you’re not just a guy standing in line any more, you become sort of novelty boy.”

Ever since he became a teen idol in the 80s TV series 21 JUMP STREET, the star has been at war with his own fame. An accidental actor, he came to LA in his teens hoping for a record deal for his rock band, but ended up doing telesales until he fell into acting…and before he knew it he was an international pin up. He spent most of the 80s and 90s getting very drunk, going out with KATE MOSS and WINONA RYDER, brawling with photographers and generating more of the very publicity he found so oppressive. No amount of dark or quirky left field roles could get him out of the gossip columns.

“I mean…all those films didn’t do well at the box office. But I still had paparazzi chasing my tail, so it was the weirdest thing in the world. Everywhere you went you were on display. It was always some kind of strange attack on the senses; I was never able to embrace it. So self medication,” meaning drink and drugs, “was just to be able to deal with it.”

That strategy lasted until the birth of his daughter LILY ROSE in 1999, to the French actor and singer VANESSA PARADIS, which he credits with changing – even saving – his life. They retreated behind the walls of homes in Paris, the Bahamas and the south of France, had a son JACK, now nine and devoted themselves to a private family life, growing vegetables and tending vineyards, with JOHNNY resurfacing only to make critically acclaimed, if commercially unspectacular, films. It sounds like an idyll of wholesome simplicity and artistic integrity. The only snag is: “I just don’t go out. I just don’t go anywhere. Just don’t leave home.”

It’s a strange profession where the prize for success is house arrest, isn’t it?

“It’s a very privileged opportunity I’ve been given, obviously. You know, the benefits are certainly very good,” he smiles.

“But there is a trade off, as with anything. Somebody’s always going to bring you the bill. The invoice comes.”

And the bill is his liberty.

He might have been allowed to recover some of his freedom by now, were it not for one choice he made 10 years ago. It didn’t just win him his first OSCAR nomination; it has made him the highest paid movie star of all time, earning $75,000,000 between June 2009 and June 2010 alone.
Award winning performances in CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, FINDING NEVERLAND and SWEENEY TODD have secured his metamorphosis into box office gold – and all because of that one performance, as CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW in the first PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN film.

Did he anticipate what the part would do to his career?

“Not really, no. Pirates was a film I did just like any other one. I made that choice the same way I made every other choice.”

Knowing what he knows now, I wonder if he’d have thought twice before making it.

“I wouldn’t change anything, no. Because I think I went into it innocently and it became what it became. And now they want to tear me down. Instantly, as soon as I did Pirates II, they say: ‘Oh, he’s selling out.’ What the fuck does that mean, selling out? What if I did Ed Wood II, is that selling out? I mean, it’s not like I was ever looking to become franchise boy, I was never looking to become anything like that. I just latched on to a character I loved.”

Becoming franchise boy has in fact done nothing to diminish his credibility. But I’m not sure any of his films really account for his status as the world’s coolest actor, or make much of a difference either way. It can’t be down to his beauty alone either or men wouldn’t lose their heads around him. I think we get closer to an explanation when JOHNNY talks about THE RUM DIARY and his friendship with HUNTER S. THOMPSON.

The film is based on an unpublished novel JOHNNY found in the writer’s basement in the 90s. Heavily autobiographical, it tells the story of a hard drinking young reporter called PAUL KEMP who goes to work for a paper in Puerto Rico in 1960 and becomes outraged by the corruption and devastation wreaked by American capitalism’s arrival on the island. It turns into a tale of heroic journalistic integrity.

The older LSD addled version of HUNTER S. THOMPSON JOHNNY played in FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS was anarchic and funny and clever – whereas the younger incarnation as PAUL KEMP is naive, dreadfully earnest and takes himself and his notion of being a writer so seriously that only the most impressionable student journalist could watch without cringing. Yet to JOHNNY, PAUL is the ultimate romantic hero – uncompromised, irony free – and his idolisation of the writer becomes almost breathless.

“You know Hunter typed The Great Gatsby? He’d look at each page Fitzgerald wrote and he copied it. The entire book. And more than once. Because he wanted to know what it felt like to write a masterpiece. He was so hungry, yeah. Innocent and yearning.”

After the writer saw FEAR & LOATHING, JOHNNY was a bundle of nerves and called him up to ask if he hated it.

“God, no man,” he told him. It was like an eerie trumpet call over a lost battlefield.”

JOHNNY looks awestruck. “Those words just came out and I thought, ‘Fucking hell, what a beautiful sentence.”’ He repeats it slowly, lovingly: An eerie trumpet call over a lost battlefield.

I think it’s JOHNNY DEPP’S own innocence – expressed as indiscriminate adoration for those he admires – that might be what men respond to. It’s an odd thing, but a star with a weakness for public hero worship seems to inspire deliriously wide eyed hero worship in his fans. He is a famous enthusiast, with great taste – he loves WITHNAIL & I, THE FAST SHOW, JACK KEROUAC, gonzo journalism, hard liquor, good wine and rock guitar. But then, so do a lot of the men in my local bar in Hackney.

Only in today’s Hollywood, where most heartthrobs are traditionally either too insecure or undiscerning to share these tastes with boyishly humble enthusiasm, do they confer the status of JEAN PAUL SARTRE crossed with JAMES DEAN.

The star comes across as thoughtful, friendly and good fun. It would be very hard not to like him. But he embodies a collective ideal of cool that touches men.

Early US box office returns suggest THE RUM DIARY may not break even – but he says he couldn’t care less about the money.

“No, God no. No. It’s always a crap shoot and really if you have that in your head while you’re making a movie the process would become something very different. No, I couldn’t give a rat’s arse really, not really.”

The publicity blitz in the past week might make cynics suggest otherwise. But the film is JOHNNY’S homage to HUNTER S. THOMPSON, who died in 2005 and also the first release by the actor’s own production company, which would account for his uncharacteristically energetic media campaign.

“I believe that this film, regardless of what it makes in, you know, Wichita, Kansas this week – which is probably about $13 – it doesn’t make any difference. I believe that this film will have a shelf life. I think it will stick around and people will watch it and enjoy it.”

Does he suspect it will go down better in Europe than the US?

“Most definitely. It’s something that will be more appreciated over here, I think. Cos it’s – well, I think it’s an intelligent film.”

He leaves a meaningful pause. “And a lot of times, outside the big cities in the States, they don’t want that.”

JOHNNY’S well documented love affair with all things European has always had a hint of hero worship about it too. I ask if there’s anything he doesn’t like about Europe and he thinks hard for a while.

“No. Not that I can think of, no. It’s a very old and beautiful culture. People know how to live. You know, here you have Sunday roast or the pub lunch, that kind of thing. It’s comforting. We don’t have that in our culture in the States. Sunday is football day, so it’s chicken wings and pizza.”

He got into hot water in 2003 for describing the US as dumb, having told another interviewer in 2000: “I want to be in the country where life is simple and we don’t have to worry about being mugged or approached by some guy selling crack on the street.”

He has been despairing of America’s trashy culture and violence for as long as I can remember and France is so central to his identity as a discerning sophisticate that I assumed he would never return to the US. So when I ask if he could ever imagine living there again, his reply comes as quite a surprise.

“Well, I kind of do. I’m between wherever I end up on location…and then the States.”

What? Hang on a minute; why did he leave France? He makes a sour noise, part grunt, part hurrumph.

“Cos France wanted a piece of me. They wanted me to become a permanent resident. Permanent residency status – which changes everything. They just want,” and he mimes peeling off notes in his palm, “dough. Money.”

If he spends more than 183 days in France, he explains indignantly, he’d have to start paying income tax.

“I’m certainly not ready to give up my American citizenship. You don’t have to give up your American citizenship,” he adds sarcastically, but then he’d have to pay tax in both countries, “so you essentially work for free.”

And all of a sudden, he sounds exactly like your average corporate Middle America multimillionaire – anti government, anti tax and apparently oblivious to the part these twin monstrous affronts might play in creating a country where he doesn’t have to worry about being mugged by crack dealers on every street.

Maybe nobody – not even the artist himself – could ever live up to the heroic legend of JOHNNY DEPP. So deep is our attachment to the mythology, though, I doubt anything he says or does will ever puncture it.

Before I go, I ask if the celebrated story of him and KATE MOSS ordering a bath filled with champagne in a hip Notting Hill hotel ever actually happened.

“I don’t think we were even in that hotel,” he smiles apologetically.

“No, it’s not true. I wish we had done it. But you know, I’m not the most extrovert person in the world. I’m not particularly…I’m not…I’m not…” and he searches in vain for the word.

“You know, at my very core I’m pretty shy. I just happen to have a weird job.”


Posted in Entertainment News, The Oscars on November 9, 2011 by Miranda Wilding


Decades after her provocative OSCAR acceptance speech, VANESSA REDGRAVE will be honoured at the film academy’s first European tribute to an actor.

THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES said that it will honour Ms. Redgrave this Sunday in London, where she is starring with JAMES EARL JONES in the stage production of DRIVING MISS DAISY.

JAMES EARL JONES, who is to receive an honorary OSCAR Saturday at the ACADEMY’S GOVERNORS AWARDS, will fete his costar in person. The actor is skipping the GOVERNORS AWARDS ceremony in Los Angeles to continue the play’s run without interruption.

He plans to participate by video in the GOVERNORS AWARDS.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the ACADEMY will honour VANESSA REDGRAVE for her five decades in film. The legendary star has been nominated for six ACADEMY AWARDS and won for her supporting role in 1977’s JULIA, playing an anti Nazi activist murdered by the Germans. This latest honour does not involve an OSCAR statuette.

Ms. Redgrave’s win for JULIA led to one of the most startling moments in OSCAR history. The Jewish Defence League had objected to her nomination and picketed the ceremony because Ms. Redgrave had narrated and helped fund a documentary THE PALESTINIAN, which supported a Palestinian state.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Redgrave praised the ACADEMY for not being intimidated by “a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behaviour is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression.”

Her comments were met by gasps, boos and growing applause.

The ACADEMY honoured producer JEREMY THOMAS in London last year. Previous London honorees include TERRY GILLIAM, HAROLD PINTER and LEWIS GILBERT.